Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

4 Apr 2008

My 100th Post! "Taekwondo v Aikido"

Many styles (as well as Taekwondo) include some basic handlocks, throws, and breakfalls. The initial style in which I started training (it wasn't in Taekwondo) included two handlocks (Kotegaeshi and nikyo), 4 throws (shoulder throws, a hip throw, and a fireman's lift throw), and some crazy breakfalls.

My time with the American Karate and Taekwondo Organisation saw me cross train in Aiki (mainly without being graded) for about 3-4 years. In that time I did take the 9th kyu grading and of course participated in many mixed sessions.

Having that 9th kyu list, a fertile mind, and the chance to expand my Taekwondo syllabus, I initially thought some 10+ years ago to add the requirements within the TKD 5th and 4th kyu syllabus. Breakfalls were included from white belt but the major Aiki techniques were arbitrarily thrown to the green and blue belts.

I hated that arrangement. It was non-harmonious with the way students learn -- it was Taekwondo until here and then these cool but bizarre techniques and then Taekwondo again. There was little to no synthesis of any of the soft style techniques; the addition to the syllabus just did not create much value to the system.

I then chose to break down this list much more and link individual techniques to the forms as required. Previously where I spread 10-12 9th kyu aiki techniques over the green and blue belt grading requirements, now I had about 6 techniques (plus variations) up to black. So basic techniques are introduced when they are presented during the forms. This approach was conceptually mirrored by Guru Kelly Worden when he used the phrase 'Destroy, Trap, Lock' to describe his approach.

I really liked that instructional approach for combat. It is modified somewhat for a self defence scenario where we 'Escape, Destroy' or just 'Lock, Destroy'. This simple approach allows us to integrate the various Aiki principles that make a lot of sense to our style.

Currently, we will teach handlocks or throws as they appear in the pattern, including the lead up sequence as a 'preamble' to the technique - making it a uniquely Taekwondo offering. Once done, I will include the aiki basic technique (as I learned it) as a 'variant' to the initial lesson. The techniques are also more frequently highlighted in class with self defence situations and scenario based training.

Our style is a hard style system. Traditional Taekwondo generates power on linear acceleration. This does not mean we can't 'flow', or be 'circular', or try to destabalize an opponent's COG as Aikidoists do. But that's not the way we majorly train, and therefore making any locks or throws work in our system mean working with fewer techniques but allowing more integration within a striking framework and combative fluency.

I like Pat's idea that Aiki is great for self defence. It certainly is a very good style for this and has a lot of plusses. The best is that Aiki students are not overly aggressive - this helps put any opponent at ease. The challenge is to make aiki relevant for beginners when that first punch is thrown. There's sometime to be said about pressure testing within a hard style framework - my students know how frightening it is when someone is coming at you and your whole body is screaming in pain.

Yes, I could have lost the plot with aiki. But I think I haven't. Aiki helps me outline what we do with our system - and shows the student what we don't do. Keeping the basics allows for us to add a dimension of effectiveness at close range, and allows the student to 1) control and throw the opponent, 2) understand center of gravity and differences between the styles, and 3) 'feel' the dynamics of the skeletal system as an interconnected system. All great for a hard stylist.

Posts with Handlocks



External Links
Mokuren Dojo: Pay Attention Aikido is Not Circular
Dojo Rat: Circular or Linear You Decide
Shoshinkan UK: Karate Grappling
The Way of Combining Forces

Colin

4 comments:

Tomcat's Taekwondo said...

At my club (WTF style) we also have self defense techniques taught to us (Ho Sin Sul which as I understand it comprises of Hapkido). I love my Taekwondo, but do also recognize that all the "big" movements of Taekwondo can be well complemented by learning some "smaller" techniques from a defensive system. The dramatic high kicks & long range punches certainly aren't necessarily suitable in a street situation. Self defense isn't my top reason for training, but it's certainly something I want myself, and my son, to learn with the hope that we never need to put it into real life use.

Patrick Parker said...

Colin, this is a very interesting post. I know exactly the process you speak of. It is tempting to add more and more and get a little somehting from this art and a little something from that one.

There's something to be said for eclectic arts, the Bruce Lee idea of Take what's useful and discard the rest. But what you found is what (i think) a lot of folks who go thru this process find (and worse - a lot never find out) that the two arts that are being mashed into one pot have two very different spirits - different strategies that make them go.

I think your solution was a good one - reductionist. go from some arbitrarily large set of aiki-things to the ones that you can find explicitly in the karate kata. This smallish set of things are the aiki things that also work in a karate, or kime-spirit.

thus, the kata represent a guideline by which you can figure out if you are creating a monster of your syllabus.

From what I've read and what I've seen of your ideas, I would surely love to work out with you for a long time. Maybe one day I'll move to Australia or you can move to Mississippi(the Mecca of martial arts)

Colin Wee said...

It is tempting to add more and more

Spot on. Many many instructors face this dilemma. Fortunately for me, I don't have inflated expectations of myself as an instructor or my students as practitioners! :-)

There's something to be said for eclectic arts, the Bruce Lee idea of Take what's useful and discard the rest.

There's something to be said about having a good coach who's objective driven and developing your skills based on your strengths and needs. I'm not so sure whether Bruce Lee was a good coach, but from all accounts, he had a small group of students and from what I've seen they've got a healthy level of clarity and talent.

I think your solution was a good one - reductionist.

There was an ulterior motive to this. It was one of my tactics for maintaining quality through a commercial service. Drill the majority on little techniques, get rid of laggards, and then add more when the cream rises.

thus, the kata represent a guideline by which you can figure out if you are creating a monster of your syllabus.

That's right.

From what I've read and what I've seen of your ideas, I would surely love to work out with you for a long time. Maybe one day I'll move to Australia or you can move to Mississippi(the Mecca of martial arts)

This is high praise - I thank you for your generosity. My talent and skill in fashioning a syllabus and teaching method stops there. Translating that to physical skill is something I am also still working on.

But I would love to meet you too, one day. The last trip to the states was in 2006. Maybe in the next one or two years I'll head by that way.

Colin

Colin Wee said...

At my club (WTF style) we also have self defense techniques taught to us (Ho Sin Sul which as I understand it comprises of Hapkido).

I used this type of terminology and training 'modules' once a long time ago. I've since started thinking of all things as combat and self defence exercises. One technique set flows into the other. If we focus specifically on handlocks, then they're called handlocks or the technique name.

About the long range kicks ... Go check out Pat's post on My Kung Fu is Better ... which talks about Aiki approaching with an inferior tactical position. It's a good post to think about what combat or self defence is without fancy or long range kicks.

Colin